Mandarin Weekly #87

大家好! (Hi, everyone!) This is Mandarin Weekly #87, with links and information for those of us learning Chinese.

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How to use 了

One of the most confusing subjects for students of Chinese is how, when, and where to use 了(le). This video from introduces 了 here:

Twitter: @Mandarin_Monkey

More about 了

Another view of 了 is from

Twitter: @LearnChineseNow

把 vs. 被

This video from presents the differences between 把 sentences (in which the object is emphasized) and 被 sentences (which are passive):

Twitter: @HanbridgeOnline


Play an instrument? Just like music? In either case, here is a video introducing a number of instrument names in Chinese:

Twitter: @Chelsea_bubbly

As soon as …

A useful grammar pattern is 一。。。就, indicating that just after doing X you did Y. This video from explains it well:

Twitter: @ChinesePod

Question words in non-questions

We’re taught that we can ask questions with certain words. But those words can also be used in non-questions. Sound confusing? Here is an explanation, along with examples:

Strokes of Chinese characters

Chinese characters are built from components, but those components are built from strokes. Here are the names and shapes of those strokes:

Translation challenge

Olle Linge is back with another Chinese challenge, this time in the area of translation. How well (and how much) can you translate? Details are here:

Twitter: @HackingChinese

Again and again

How can you describe an action that is repeated? You can use 又 (yòu), as demonstrated here:

Twitter: @Chelsea_bubbly

Give me a hand

Just as you can say “give someone a hand” in English, you can do that in Chinese with the expression 搭把手 (dā bǎ shǒu):

Types of skirts

Enjoy wearing skirts? Here are some different types of skirts, and their names in Chinese:

Starter questions

Want to have a conversation with Chinese speakers? Sure, but where do you start? Here are some good questions you can use to start a conversation — or, if someone asks you these questions, you can already prepare an answer:

Twitter: @WrittenChinese

Chinese cuisines

We often talk about Chinese food — but in actuality, there are many types of Chinese food, from different parts of the country. Here are four examples of regional cuisines, along with vocabulary and pronunciation:

Twitter: @YoYoChinese

iPhone 7 words

As many people have heard, Apple has unveiled the iPhone 7. What’s new about it? Well, here are some words to describe the updates in Chinese:

Twitter: @HelloChineseApp

A strategy for improvement

How can you hope to improve your Chinese fluency? It’s nice to say “practice,” but what sort of practice? This article gives some concrete suggestions for pushing ahead:

Twitter: @DigMandarin

Autumn vocabulary

Summer is just about over (in the northern hemisphere); to describe the coming of autumn in Chinese, here are some useful vocabulary words:

Twitter: @ChineseLanguage

Exploring Luoyang

Luoyang (洛阳) is one of the four ancient capitals of China, and has some amazing art. Here’s an introduction to this city, with vocabulary words to describe it:

Twitter: @ChineseLanguage

Comedy from Da Shan

If you’re a Westerner studying Chinese, you’ve probably heard of Da Shan, a Canadian actor and comedian whose mastery of Chinese is legendary. Here’s a video (with a transcript in characters and Pinyin) of a comedy routine:

Twitter: @ChineseLanguage

Chinese signs

Traveling to China? There will be some signs (and sign-related words) that repeat themselves. Here are some good ones to keep in mind:

Twitter: @Chelsea_bubbly


You can say that something is delicious with 好吃 (hǎo chī), but is there any other word or phrase that expresses this idea?

Repeated 把

Someone asks what it means to have 一把把 in a sentence. The best answer shows how you sometimes have to pick a sentence apart; in this case, the first 把 is being used as a measure word:

Coming and going

The characters 来 (lái) and 去 (qù) aren’t only used as verbs (coming and going), but also to indicate direction, which can be tricky:

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